They were not for putting the squeeze on verbose after-dinner speakers as chairman Sir David Sieff made clear when he told diners: "In case anybody wants to know what these are for, they are not for throwing at me when I have been speaking for one and a half hours." He sat down ­ only minutes later ­ to polite applause and every banana remained on its table, happily since it was Sir David's last BRC dinner as chairman. And the absence of any politician as a speaker ruled out their use for banana skin' opportunities, though they might have come in handy last year when the then home secretary Jack Straw addressed the dinner. Talking of comedians, we did get BBC TV host Angus Deayton, who was funny on purpose. Another comedian who should have been present was PM Tony Blair who wrote a bumptious message in the dinner programme stating:"A healthy retail sector is key to the health of the overall economy." A pity Blair didn't turn up because he would have been told how his government was guilty of muddled thinking that put the health of an industry that is creating more jobs and wealth in Britain than any other at risk. Meanwhile, cash still reigns supreme in Wales. A colleague tried to pay the toll on the Severn Bridge by card, but was sent packing back to England in search of an elusive cash machine. {{COUNTERPOINT }}